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Brick Stain vs Paint (Pros & Cons and Design Guide)

Here’s our brick stain vs paint comparison guide including pros and cons and helping you find the best type for your home designs.Bedroom with brick stain wallsWhether its walls, columns, sidings, or fireplaces, brick surfaces give homes a timeless beauty, as well as improve their value. These strong building materials also protect your home from external elements, are energy-efficient, and come from sustainable production.

Brickwork, however, does come with minimal drawbacks. Like any material, it’s only natural for its color and surface to wear away through time. Fortunately, bricks are very easy and affordable to maintain!

Two of the best options in maintaining your brick are painting and staining. This article explains the differences between them so you can select which method to make your brick vibrant again.

Choosing Brick Stain or Paint

Home office with painted brick wallsBrick staining and brick painting are two popular methods to upgrade the bricks in your home. Both techniques make use of a water-based coating and have straightforward effects on the surface of the brick. They add a new layer of color and protection to make the surface look good as new.

Brick Stain

Brick staining is changing the color of the brick with the use of a staining solution. The stain sinks into the surface of the brick so it preserves the brick’s natural look.

You can tint the stain with any color but you won’t have as much choice as with paint. Nonetheless, water-based stains add a degree of protection to the brick surface.

Brick Paint

Painting bricks, on the other hand, completely change the color of the masonry block with an opaque and pigmented liquid.

With paint, you have countless options for colors, while at the same time creating a protective barrier between the brick and external elements.

The flat finish of paint offers a contemporary vibe, so people often use this method if they want to go for a “remodeled” look.  Read more about different paint colors that go with brick.

Now we’ll cover the brick stain vs paint pros and cons starting with the pros of brick.

Brick Stain Pros and Cons

Kitchen with stained brick wall white cabinets wood countertopsBrick staining protects your bricks from environmental factors while preserving their natural look. If you want to preserve the texture and classic appearance of the surface, this method is advisable.


  • Allows Moisture.

As mentioned above, the stain only sinks into the porous surface so it still maintains airflow. Brick surfaces need this airflow to prevent moisture from building up and prevent the bricks from cracking.

  • Fire and Weather Resistant

When the stain dries, it chemically bonds with the brick and does not melt or discolor under extreme temperatures. It would be able to withstand heat as much as the brick itself.

  • Long-lasting.

It takes seven to ten years before you see obvious signs of fading. It may even last 20 years, depending on your area’s climate and the type of brick.

  • Affordable.

Many homeowners find brick staining a cost-effective option. High-quality stains can indeed be expensive. But over time, it requires minimal to zero maintenance and balances the overall spending.


  • Thorough Process.

The actual application of brick stain can be challenging for many homeowners. You’ll need to clean the brick thoroughly so the stain can better adhere to it. If not, the stain will not be as effective.

Furthermore, brick stain preserves the natural character of the brick, so it won’t completely improve damaged ones.

Brick Paint Pros and Cons

Loft bedroom with painted brick wallsA coating of quality paint over brick blends the modern and classic styles while adding a new layer of protection against the elements. This method is ideal for a more contemporary appearance in your home.


  • Protective Barrier.

The paint coating acts as a barrier to protect the brick surface from wear. Certain paint types are produced to block out sunlight and moisture, which may damage your brick surfaces. This may be better than stain for place that have a lot of water splashes such as the kitchen or bathroom.

  • More Colors Available.

Stains are not available in all pigments, while paint can be ordered in different hues or tones. If you want specific shades on your wall, brick paint is the better option.

  • Fast Application

Brick painting is a fairly straightforward method, and DIY enthusiasts enjoy the speed and ease of its application.


  • Need Regular Maintenance

Paint does not sink into porous brick, so there are instances where it traps moisture. This can chip and crack the paint coating in time. You need to repaint them every three to five years to keep them in the best appearance.

Is It Better to Stain or Paint Brick?

When it comes to brick stain vs paint it really depends on the area of application. Brick is a popular choice for building material because of its durability. But many homes and business owners also choose brick over stone, vinyl, and other materials because of the attractive character of the brick itself.

Brick staining helps maintain this character, preserving the natural color and texture instead of covering them with a latex finish. Thus, it complements the brick and is a better option for the long term. Staining a brick wall living room may be a better choice if you want to keep the rustic look of brick intact.

Painting brick requires a bit more maintenance but can be a fairly good method if you have a specific theme or look in mind or want a portion of your brick wall to stand out.

Home office with white washed brick wallsFor those who don’t want to completely cover their brick with paint there is brick whitewashing. Limewash is often used for this process and can allow some of your bricks natural characteristics to show through depending on how many coats you apply.

Is Brick Stain Permanent?

Brick stain is essentially permanent: meaning, whatever tint you use will be intrinsically absorbed through the brick until the time a new stain is applied.

Unlike paint that only becomes another layer, stain penetrates the porous brick and bonds with the material permanently once it dries.

How Long Does Stained Brick Last?

Stained brick often lasts between seven to twenty years, depending on the climate, condition of the brick, and quality of the stain.

Its longevity can also be influenced by how well the surface was prepared before staining. A completely clean surface – without moss or debris – absorbs the stain better.

What Kind of Stain Do You Use on Brick?

Dining room with stained brick wall large wall of windowsThere are two general types of stain used on brick: water-based stain and stain pre-mixed with sealant.

Water-based brick stain is more commonly used and easier to apply. It allows the brick to remain breathable and prevents water build-up at the same time.

Brick stains with sealant also create a watertight coat but cracking can occur if it freezes. Thus, it is more recommended for smaller or damaged areas only.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Brick?

Water-based acrylic latex paints are best paired with brick surfaces. They are durable, breathable, and more flexible than oil-based paints.

Acrylic paint is better in filling in small crevices that are natural in brick surfaces. They are also odorless and can be removed without toxic substances such as paint thinner.

Can You Paint Straight Onto Brick?

Painting interior and exterior brick have different approaches. For both areas, when the brick surface has too many crevices, you may use a masonry primer to fill in too rough-textured surfaces. Then, let the primer dry completely before anything else.

If you’re painting brick on the exterior of your home, it is best to use a pressure washer to remove debris and grime before priming and painting.

Afterward, you will need a sealer to weatherproof your paint job. For interior brick, use a scrub or wire brush. This will ensure maximum adhesion and a good finish. Get more information about the best paint finish for living rooms here.

Does Painting Brick Devalue a Home?

Painting brick should not devalue a home. If anything, it upgrades curb appeal and provides a visual attraction when painted properly. However, it could introduce you or future owners to regular maintenance of the painted surface.

Keep in mind that while some families want an interesting take on the classic masonry block, some are more attracted to minimal maintenance.

Why Should You Not Paint Brick?

The most important factor to determine your choice of painting brick is their quality. It is not advisable to paint brick that is molding, chipping, or in an overall poor state.

Paint will block its natural pores and will only escalate its deterioration. Since worn bricks have more incomplete joints and gaps, water seeps through them and will have a harder time evaporating because of the blocked surface.

What do you think of brick stain vs paint, do you have a favorite? If so let us know in the comment section. For similar content see our brick flooring designs guide here.